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Location: Polyface Farms, Swoope, Virginia
Featuring: Joel Salatin

The herd is an organism, a mob, rather than a group of individuals.  In nature, the herd is created by predation pressure.  Here, Joel uses an electric fence, which he moves daily, in a process called mob stocking. Joel places the cows in a specific place for a specific time.  These herbivore are catalyst of this solar collection biomass system.   Their eating and defecating stimulate plants to grow.

Where does the energy come from? Well, the field runs on real time sun energy, not stored carbon like petroleum.  The best solar collector ever invented is still photosynthesis. It converts solar energy into vegetative, decomposable biomass.

Lignin is the glue that holds plant cellulose together; as a plant matures, lignification leads to a stronger cellulosic structure.  Nature doesn’t do green manuring, letting biomass drop to the soil surface until it’s brown-lignified.  That happens when cow meets grass. Consuming and processing the grass, burns energy, its waste product serving to fertilize the soil, driving the soil food web.

The soil food web gets even more complex. You see, plants create bilateral symmetry at the soil horizon.  When they are grazed upon, they voluntarily prune off an equivalent amount of root biomass to maintain symmetry.  This “pulsing” occurs exponentially as plants achieve their juvenile growth spurt.  This root biomass leaves carbon in the soil rather than exhausting it into the atmosphere. This routine dumping of organic matter into the soil feeds the soil biota (earthworms, for example).

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